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In Memoriam: Charles Kao, 'Father of Fiber Optics,' Dies at 84

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HONG KONG, Sept. 24, 2018 — Charles Kuen Kao, a Chinese electrical engineer who was called the "father of fiber optics" for his critical role in laying the groundwork for high-speed data communications, died in Hong Kong on Sunday. He was 84.

In recognition of his 1960s research, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with two other scientists in 2009. The two scientists had invented an imaging semiconductor circuit, known as the charge-coupled device, for digital photos and film. At the time, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that the three men had “shaped the foundations of today's networked societies.”

Kao and a colleague figured out how to transmit light over long distances using pure optical-glass fibers. They also outlined the superior capacity of fiber optic cables for storing information, compared to the capabilities of the copper wires and radio waves in use at the time.

Kao received an honorary doctor of science degree from Princeton, along with many awards from engineering associations around the world. He founded the Department of Electronics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1970, where he was a professor and later vice chancellor.

Kao is survived by his wife and two children, Amanda and Simon.
Sep 2018
Businessfiber opticsCharles Kuen KaoNobel LaureateeducationResearch & TechnologyAsia-Pacific

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